From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

ABC mumbles and grumbles. Actor and singer Eddie Perfect was announced today as a new host of Play School — a move we’re sure many parents will approve of, as well as kids. In other ABC news, we received a tip telling us that Mark Scott would be leaving the ABC within 30 days — almost 18 months earlier than when his current term is due to end in mid-2016. An ABC spokesperson told us the broadcaster wouldn’t be commenting on the length of his contract or the length of tenure, but it’s definitely not the first time Scott has been asked how much longer he’ll be at the ABC. When Scott was asked last year if he would seek a third term as managing director, he said it was “too early to say”.

We’ve been hearing  a few grumblings about the ABC lately, and while we will refrain from becoming the letters section of the Green Guide, the comments have got us wondering if there’s a bigger issue at hand:

“ABC 666 coverage in Canberra of the spill today was an absolute fiasco.Crossed to RN’s coverage of the result, strongly badged as RN, then interrupted it to go back again to try to pick up Abbott speaking, lost Abbott, went to TV, back to Abbott, comment by Genevieve ‘feeds coming from everywhere’, having had one good commentator (Dr Warhurst) went to music then a piece on kelpies! I assume this is the new ABC who has sacked all the experienced producers and is now run by inexperienced 9 year olds. The ABC will soon lose their reputation as the go to when there is a national crisis.”

Are the issues at Canberra’s Local Radio related to budget cuts? We asked the ABC whether the broadcast had been full of technical errors and were told:

“Your reader is misinformed. ABC 666’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s live statement was interrupted by a technical issue for a brief period of time, approximately 90 seconds. The full statement was broadcast soon after.There were no other interruptions to the ABC 666 coverage throughout the morning and at no stage did ABC 666 staff switch to RN content.”

We have also been hearing about delays to programs being uploaded to iView, as well as transcripts of programs taking a long time to go online. We asked the ABC if the delays were a result of the recent budget cuts and were told:

“iView is experiencing no known delays to the upload of pre-recorded programming, which makes up a majority of the programs. Our intention is to have all pre-recorded programs available to view within an hour of broadcast. Some ABC programs which are not pre-recorded are necessarily captured, encoded and delivered to iView post-broadcast rather than pre-broadcast, so can therefore take a slightly longer time to appear on the service. In those instances the programs are made available to view as soon as is practicable. In recent months, iView has expanded on the volume of News content made available, with the inclusion of nightly state-based bulletins.”

Perhaps we’re just being too impatient for our favourite ABC programs.

Ruddock’s not for retiring. A tipster who has been watching Philip Ruddock and his seat of Berowra has taken issue with the suggestion that the grandfather of Australian politics may retire, leaving the seat open for someone like Barry O’Farrell to run for it:

“That would not be possible as it would appear Philip is going to follow his father’s example and die in office (much to Julian Leeser’s chagrin — he’s been waiting for years for Phil to go).  Of course, that will mean Phil will develop Alzheimer’s whilst warming his seat.  Luckily for him, within the Liberal Party no one will notice. Best bet for Barry would be a gig in the private sector.  Whilst he’d make a good sommelier I’d tip his likely employment prospects lie elsewhere.  In fact, I’d bet on it.”

While an interesting anecdote, Ruddock’s father Max actually retired from NSW Parliament six days before he passed away in 1976, which is still an impressive effort.

History repeating. Ms Tips feels bad for the abandoned Melway that sits in the footwell under the passenger seat, superseded by the insistent GPS lady who always knows the way, so she was glad to see that Melway has released its original maps online — right back to 1966. The maps give us the ability to take a virtual walk down memory lane — in 1966 the main map included a guide to the city’s drive-in theatres.

Simpkins — fighting Abbott and hoons. Yesterday’s Crikey featured a backgrounder on the architects of yesterday’s failed leadership spill, Don Randall and Luke Simpkins. One reader tells us that Simpkins has always been “politically complex”:

“I thought a more memorable uttering followed his first election. When asked what was the most important issue that he stood for and which had been instrumental in delivering him his electoral success he replied words to the effect: ‘the most important policy that I stand for and which the people of Cowan want, is stop hooning in our street’. (Hooning, being kids doing tyre burn outs in their cars in the streets.) This was it, the most important issue upon which a federal government member was elected — the right standard of gravitas for the job ahead! Of course, traffic management is a state/local government responsibility but it says two things: the candidate is an intellectual lightweight or the electorate is as ignorant as some of us suspect.”

Who is watching? The term “Orwellian” gets thrown around a lot, sometimes when it isn’t warranted, but the release of Samsung’s new Smart TVs and its accompanying privacy policy, which warns viewers (the viewed?) not to discuss personal or sensitive information in front of their televisions because it could be sent to a third party through voice recognition software, definitely deserves the term. Perhaps Orwell was right and “if you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself”.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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